Thursday, September 7, 2017

In Harvey's wake, critics see
big money behind lax reporting

From the Texas Tribune:

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, an exploding chemical plant and spikes in cancer-causing emissions are highlighting how little the public knows about potential dangers from the oil and chemical industries. Critics say one reason for the darkness: tons of campaign money.

Read full article at the Texas Tribune.
Read TPJ's report Running on Hydrocarbons.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ethics Commission Fines 2nd Toll Road Director in TPJ Complaint.
James Mills to Pay $1,000 Fine for Non-disclosure.

The Texas Ethics Commission has levied a $1,000 fine against former Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Director James Mills to resolve an ethics complaint that TPJ filed in March 2016.  The Commission's investigation confirmed TPJ's allegations that Mills failed to fully disclose his business interests in his 2014 and 2015 Personal Financial Statements as required by law.  TPJ filed similar complaints against CTRMA directors Charles Heimsath and Ray Wilkerson.  Heimsath was fined by the Commission on June 9, 2017.  The Wilkerson complaint is pending.  TPJ's original complaints against the toll-road directors can be found here.

Download the TEC Final Order in the Mills complaint.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Lobby Watch:
A Special Session Built for Special Interests

Six of Gov. Abbott's 20 stated reasons for convening this special session would override local governments to benefit construction and development interests. Those same two industries have given Abbott $10.7 million, or 15 cents of every gubernatorial dollar that he raised. 

Read More as Lobby Watch digs into who wants to bulldoze city hall.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lobby Watch: Gold Deposits Contractor Paid Tribute to the King.

Heads of the Austin company that won a state contract to build a gold depository did not contribute to state candidates before Gov. Abbott signed the bill creating the Texas Bullion Depository. Between that signing and Comptroller Glenn Hegar's recent awarding of the depository contract, three Lone Star Tangible Assets leaders made coordinated contributions to deliver a total of $21,500 to Hegar and Abbott. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

TPJ Ethics Complaint: Toll Road Director
Fined for Failing to Disclose Business Interests

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Director Charles Heimsath agreed to pay a $300 fine to settle an ethics complaint that TPJ filed in March 2016. An Ethics Commission investigation confirmed TPJ's allegations that Heimsath failed to disclose his interests two Austin-based companies.  TPJ's March complaint, along with similar complaints against two other CTRMA directors can be found here.

Download the TEC Final Order in the Heimsath complaint.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Lawmakers Rub Out Emergency Ethics Reforms -
TPJ, Public Citizen Statement

Gov. Abbott's "Emergency" 
Goes Unheeded - Again!

For the second legislative session in a row, lawmakers largely ignored Gov. Greg Abbott's emergency call for ethics reform.

See the fate of 10 Key Reform Bills and TPJ's reaction.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lobby Watch: $1.7 M. Ideological Dollars Drove Patrick-Straus Rift?

The biggest funding difference between Lt. Gov. Patrick and Speaker Straus stems from Ideological/Single Issue contributors. Before ideological brawls broke out between the two legislative chambers, Ideological/Single Issue donors gave Patrick almost $2 million--or 674 percent more than they gave to Straus.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lobby Watch: Predatory Lenders Lavish $4.2 Million on Texas Pols

The predatory lending industry has spent a stunning $4.2 million on Texas politicians over the past two elections, including more than $1 million from Cash Store chief Trevor Ahlberg of Irving (25 percent of the total). These heavy political investments helped a defensive industry seize the offensive.

Check out the new Lobby Watch.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Running on Hydrocarbons:
Oil & Gas Contributions to Texas Legislators

Current Texas lawmakers took $11.3 million from the oil and gas industry over the past two election cycles, according to a new report, "Running on Hydrocarbons," released today by Texans for Public Justice, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter. The Energy & Natural Resources sector supplies lawmakers with more money than any other sector besides Lawyers & Lobbyists (even as Energy & Natural Resources is the leading employer of Texas lobbyists).

Read the media release

Read the full report: Running on Hydrocarbons.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lobby Watch: The Newest 'Revolving Door' Lobbyists.

With five of Speaker Joe Straus' former lieutenants stepping straight into the lobby this session, a Straus-appointed committee eviscerated a reform to slam the brakes on the revolving door. 

Members seem to regard the revolving door as a personal entitlement, as the House trains future lobbyists at public expense. Which 2015 committee chair now boasts the fattest retainers? Who lugged the biggest leftover war chest into the lobby?